Youth Optimist Sailors get a boost from Flowers

| 10/08/2011

(CISA): Cayman’s youth sailors recently took delivery of a newly refurbished fleet of Optimist sailing dinghies thanks to generous support from Flower’s Bottled Water. The Optimist Sailing dinghy is arguably the most successful sailing boat of all time. Designed to be sailed by children up to 15 years old, there are over 160,000 active optimist sailors in over 100 countries worldwide.  85% of medal winners at the Beijing Olympics were former Optimist sailors and most Americas Cup Sailors started off in Optis. 

Whilst Optimists have been sailed in Cayman in the past, the Optimist fleet had been sidelined for some time as our sailors grew out of them and into the Byte C2 class, the Youth Olympic gamesclass boat. As part of the Race Cayman event in 2010, the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) hosted the Caribbean and Central America Youth Olympic Qualifier Regatta for the 2010 Youth Olympics held in Singapore. A total of 34 youth sailors from 17 countries competed for places at the Youth Olympics along with five of our local youth sailors. Lizzy Wauchope went on to represent Cayman in Singapore.

Rick Caley, the CISC manager said, “This group of sailors has all now moved on to college and beyond, leaving a bit of a vacuum in the CISC sailing programme. There were no new young sailors coming through to fill their shoes.”

New Head Coach Raph Harvey has put in great efforts to rejuvenate the grass roots of the sailing programme and has targeted the Optimist class as the way to go. Coach Raph summed up his new philosophy saying, “Kids want to get sailing fast but if they haven’t learned how to sail properly and handle their boat well, they just won’t get to the very top. The Optimist requires a high level of skill and commitment to get the best out of the boat and our present squad of sailors is starting to show signs that they have what it takes”.

This new initiative has led to the CISC being invited to host the Western Caribbean Optimist Dinghy Championship in March 2012. This will be a large event and the CISC expects up to 50 sailors from North America, Central America and the Caribbean to take part. It will also be a great opportunity for Cayman’s young sailors to compete against top sailors in their own back yard.

It is recognised that to compete at the top level you have to have the proper equipment and in the sailing world that is not cheap. Therefore the CISC has taken great strides to ensure that the cost does not prohibit any of our youth from going to the top levels. The coaches offer training every weekend free of charge. The club has recently purchased a further six second hand boats and the coaching staff have spent many hours repairing and polishing these boats so that they are as good as new. The club provides the boats free of charge to our youth sailors.

Rick Caley said, “A generous donation from Richard Flowers from Flowers Bottled Water was the last piece of the jigsaw and has allowed us to purchase new sails and equipment for the boats. The fleet is now looking very impressive and the hope is that the new equipment will inspire the kids to train hard to improve their boat handling skills and represent Cayman to their very best. “


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